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I fully intended to finish my NBA preview today. However, the Sports Guy squashed that plan with the following from today's column (under a section titled "Four Ridiculous Statements..."):

Manu Ginobili "should be in the LeBron/Wade conversation." Um, let's not have that conversation until Manu stops mailing in games and disappearing on the road. Cool?

OK. Let's start at the very beginning. Is Manu Ginobili in the same class as LeBron and Wade? Apparently Bill Simmons finds this question preposterous. Which is interesting. Because he didn't have the answer as recently as June 13th (the day after Game 2 on the NBA Finals) when he posed a similar question:

If Manu Ginobili finishes the series the way he started, does he have to be considered the most dominant all-around two-guard in the league (ahead of Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady and everyone else)?

I addressed the question in a post from my old blog:

My last post brought up Bill Simmons question regarding where Manu stands amongst other two guards. Personally, I rank him below at least Kobe and Wade (and maybe others, too). First off, there's a small talent gap. The larger (and more effectual) difference lies in whatever causes Ginobili to play 29 minutes and only shoot the ball 6 times. Maybe it can be attributed to lack of conditioning, unselfishness, playing within the system or not forcing the issue. And I do not doubt his thigh had something to do with it (though, as I've pointed out 71 times before, Manu is always passing up shots, with or without thigh bruises). Detroit also trapped the pick and roll a few times (though not frequently enough to justify 6 shots). The reason behind his timidity is immaterial; the end result is what matters, and the end result is that he's hurting the team.

Manu is the Spurs' best offensive player, and it's not really even that close at this point. He needs to shoot a minimum of 15 times every game. And on nights when Duncan is playing like absolute ass that number needs to be around 25. You could cut off Kobe's leg in the first quarter and he would still find a way to get up 15 shots. At this point, that's what is separating Manu from the upper crust of shooting guards.

I didn't mention LeBron because I consider him more of a 3. Regardless of position he is a better player than Manu; I have never intimated otherwise.

Back to the Sports Guy (SG). So apparently the question went from viable to ridiculous in 5 games? Yes, I know SG begins with "If Manu Ginobili finishes..." And yes, I watched and acknowledged The Sickness' horrible play in Detroit. But it seems illogical to go from "maybe the best SG" to "disappering on the road" over the course of 3 road games against the second best defense in the NBA. Especially when remembering that Manu got kneed in the thigh 30 seconds into Game 3. Of course Manu denied the injury effected him at the time, but it was obvious that he was a step slow for the remainder of the series.

But let's NOT give Manu the benefit of the doubt. Let's assume he was 100% and simply choked because he was on the road. If that was the case then you would think it would show up in the rest of the playoff series, right?

Well, here are the numbers for the DEN, SEA and PHX series.

Hmm. I would not classify that as "disappearing on the road." If anything, he asserted himself more on the road, upping his FGA, FTA, REB and A. His scoring did decrease by a whopping 11% but he still scored 21 PPG on 46% shooting.

And isn't Ginobili the same guy who buried DEN with 32 points on their home court in the hugely important game 3? The same guy with the ball in his hands at the end of Game 6 in SEA, where he found Duncan for the game winning layup? The same guy who found Horry out of the double team for the game winning 3 in game 5 at DET? The same guy who faced up Marion at the end of game 2 in PHX, up by 1 with two minutes to go in the fourth and proceeded to execute a flawless behind-the-back layup in the face of Amare and Marion? And this is a guy who "disappears on the road?"

If that crock of shit wasn't bad enough, he also accuses The Sickness of "mailing in games." I don't even know where to start with this one. To imply that Manu EVER gives less than 100% is absurd. There may be nights he doesn't jack up 20 shots; that's going to happen when:

A) You play with the likes of Tim Duncan and Tony Parker.
B) You aren't a ball hog.

But Manu "mailing in games?" Then what do you call the nightly effort from Vince Carter? Or any time Shaq, Chris Webber, Amare Stoudemire, LeBron James, Michael Redd and Antoine Walker are on the defensive end? "Not even bothering to go to the post officing games?" I thought the SG actually watched the NBA.

In summary:

A) I still have a strong, manly love for the SG; he was just WAY the fuck off base with his ignoble accusations of "disappering" and "mailing."
B) Manu "The Sickness" Ginobili is not a better player than LeBron or Wade.
C) Enjoy the "Scalabrine Era" Bill!